The US-led West has put in place severe sanctions on the Assad-regime but Iran, Russia and China are supporting Mr. Assad. Many Sunni Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan are providing lethal assistance to rebels. Americans have kept low profile and are providing communication and other logistical support to rebels. Rebels are expecting more American involvement in the form of direct military support. The CIA has been very active and is believed to be involved in espionage in which top military leaders were killed recently in July.
One of the dominant views in the Washington DC is to increase the direct involvement of the Pentagon overruling the United Nation Security Council. Former UN Secretary General and the former UN special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, tried very hard but in vain to strike a deal between Mr. Assad and FSA. The supporters of the US intervention in Syria talk about loosening US influence in the Middle East should the US not intervene in Syria. According to them the fall of Mr. Assad is certain and the US could loose its leverage with the upcoming government dominated by Sunnis. They also point out that the non-involvement of the US implies increasing influence of al-Qaeda-Taliban which could be detrimental to the US interests. They also fear that the chemical weapons might fall into wrong hands if the US does not make attempt to secure them and ultimately destroy once Mr. Assad is ousted. They also point out that minorities may be persecuted as increasing the duration could mean an all out civil conflict and a greater Shia-Sunni conflict in the entire region.
The opponents of the military action cite the same reasons but differently. They say that not much US interests are involved and there is not much point in ousting a government which is secular and can become pro-Western. They also point out that Mr. Assad, unlike Mr. Qaddafi, has not done any act against the US or against the West. Mr. Qaddafi was involved in Lockerbie bombing. They say that it is easier to secure and dismantle the chemical stockpile from Assad-regime than from any future Sunni government. They also point out that replacement of the present regime by Islamists would destabilize the whole region. They also claim that after a brief period of honeymoon what the Syrians would remember is the losses the state suffered during military action by the Pentagon.
Mr. Obama right now is following the policy of restrain even though he has clearly spelled ‘red lines’ about the usage of chemical weapons: should Assad-regime uses it against its own people, transfers them or uses it against any other state friendly to the US, the US would retaliate. Of course, air defense system of Syria is not as weak as that was of Libya and therefore, it would be difficult to impose no fly zones and safe zones so easily in Syria. Moreover, Russian naval ships may also participate in the war initiating a new cold war between the West on one side and Russia, China and many Islamic countries on other side. The economic situation of the globe is not appropriate to start a new cold war. Moreover, oil prices may also increase because of the global conflict as Russia is the biggest supplier of the petroleum products to Europe.
But this is not why Mr. Obama is hesitant to take actions against Assad-regime. First of all, the contest between Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama is going to be very tough. Whoever wins, he would probably be very tough on Mr. Assad. Mr. Obama, though less likely to win, if he gets reelected would be completely different person than what he is now in his first term. But not all are that hopeful that Mr. Romney would be that hawkish against the present Syrian regime. Removing Mr. Assad is a matter of choice should the US decide so. But if Mr. Assad is not ousted by FSA then it may take a while, after the results of Presidential elections are declared, before any serious military action against the Syrian-regime is taken. And no action could be one of the options.
The explanation starts from understanding as to why Arab upheavals took so long to take shape and still are only half-hearted. During the end of the cold war it was Republican administration of Bush 41. Iraq invaded Kuwait and the US freed it. It was Democrat administration under Clinton thereafter. Obviously, the Islamic world had its own time to start reforms but then it was again Republican administration of Bush 43. The hawkish attitude of Bush 43 combined with the September 11 attack during first year of his first term kept the dissent against the despots and authoritarian regimes checked. But then Bush 43 invaded Iraq on the pretext of it having weapons of mass destruction. This resulted initially in civil war in Iraq but ultimately brought some kind of elementary democracy in Islamic sense there. After Bush 43 it was Mr. Obama’s term and smoldering turned into flames. Mr. Obama gave the historic Cairo speech in June 2009. He deliberately keeps some distance with Israel to convince Arabs that under his administration the US has changed its West Asia policy. Mr. Obama gave hope, though many insincere, to the whole world and all these factors combined with the introduction of high technologies, usage of social websites and changing id and consciousness brought the changes in the Arab world.
But what if Mr. Romney wins, which is more probable than otherwise? It will be complete freezing, truncation of all upheavals and would result in instant crystallization of Arab brains which can be said to be in somewhat ‘liquid state’ at present implying prone to change. Those who have little understanding of Chemistry understand that instant crystallization results in rough crystals most of the time. It does not mean that protests and rebellion would stop but their meanings would change. Arabs would become more ego-centric and the inter-sectarian conflict would increase. But for a while they may tolerate people different from them. The increased inter-sectarian conflicts would increase the likelihood of second Arab upheavals in future, more so, if Mr. Romney hypothetically wins the second term. Since this would take place in higher consciousness era it could be lesser violent and more meaningful.
The second revolution would start at around the time when the Arab oil wealth would be about to end and they would be receptive to changing their economic laws based on Sharia: whole tax structure would change and so would be the interest rates. This would give ample opportunity to Americans and other Western financial institutions and banks to do more business. This could lead to consumerist revolution in Arab world. The second Arab revolution would also be concurrent with the branching in world order; when investments lead to future conflicts. So it would be very conflict prone world and the US could bet on inventing alternate fuel by that time to defeat dissent against it, to stop the eruption of the third world war and to restructure the global world order by renegotiating international treaties.
The upheavals if stopped abruptly would initiate dissent in societies like Russia, China and Saudi Arabia and may bring significant changes there. Mr. Obama’s policies are directed at long-term. The only negative effect of this is that sub-nationalities may take uncompromising position and could make Arabia more amorphous, bitter and destabilized. But anyway this is the best way to change the world but for that Mr. Romney needs to win November 6 election.